26-pointer greenscored at more than 200 inches Pope & Young
It was fitting that Shane Ragon fell to his knees when he first put his hands on the massive antlers of the buck he killed Oct. 6 in the middle of a sweet potato field near his home in Calhoun County.
Heck, he was on both knees when he made the shot.
“I am not ashamed to tell you that I got very emotional when I grabbed those antlers and lifted them up and saw what I had done,” the 40-year-old Ragon said. “I cried. I laughed. I cried again. And I laughed again.
“And I prayed, too, thanking the Lord for giving me the opportunity to take such a remarkable animal”
Remarkable? You bet.
“It was greenscored at 203 5/8 inches, gross,” the Calhoun City hunter said. “It is a 7×7 main frame with 12 sticker points that measure 25 inches non-typical. It doesn’t have a lot of mass — it’s less than 16 inches inside spread — but, boy, it makes up for it with those points.”
Even if the score drops 8 inches after the 60-day drying period for an official score, the buck will become the third largest non-typical buck ever killed in Mississippi, according to the Magnolia Records.
But even more remarkable is the story of how Ragon was able to get his trophy. He showed great poise under trying conditions to beat long odds at even getting close to the buck, which included hunting from his knees on the ground in an open field.
“It is a long story that has to begin at the very beginning, I promise,” he said. “It started in the morning when my son Zane, 9, and I went hunting. He’s my hunting partner, and he’s accomplished. Last year, at the age of 8, he killed a 9-point, a 200-pound hog and his first wild turkey.
“At the end of the morning, we were riding around an area where farmers had reported seeing a lot of hogs. I thought we might get Zane a shot. It’s four-acre sweet potato field with a hedgerow on one side, timber at one end and a power line running down the middle.”
They soon were looking at a hog.
“When we turned the curve and could see the field, there was a big boar hog in the field,” Ragon said. “He picked up his head and started watching us, and when I stopped to glass him with the binoculars he broke and ran the length of the 600 yards to the timber at the far end.”
That opportunity was over, but it was an important factor in how the day would end. Father and son returned home to find out that Mom was at the house with a busted refrigerator. It was shot, and so, it appeared, was Ragon’s opening Saturday of the bow season.
“I made some calls, found a good deal and went and got the new refrigerator,” he said. “I got it home in the middle of the afternoon, and my wife started moving everything from the old refrigerator into the new one, and while she was doing that I told her I had a feeling that if I went back to that sweet potato field I might get a shot at that big hog.
“So I grabbed my bow and took off. It was getting dark, so I hurried down there.”
Ragon pulled in behind the hedgerow where farmers park their equipment and trucks, and walked across a gravel road to the field.
“There’s a big line of oaks down one side, and the 10-foot-high hedgerow on the other that is so tall you can’t see through it to the other field,” he said. “A power line runs through the middle of the field; I figured I was going to set up in the oak trees, but when I got there the limbs hung so low I couldn’t see anything.”
So the hunter went to Plan B.
“I didn’t have any kind of stand hanging or anything else, and it was late. I looked out and saw one of the power poles, and I am a lineman for a power company so I know about poles, so I decided I’d go out there and get next to it,” Ragon said. “I walked out there to it, got my rangefinder, and it was 418 yards to other end of the field.”
Next, he glassed the field, and quickly saw something that piqued his interest.
“I took my binoculars and saw a deer in that far end of the field,” Ragon said. “I was sitting on the ground and it had been raining. I looked at the deer, and it was dark down there against the trees at the far end, but when it lifted its head, I said, ‘Dang, that’s a buck.’
“But it was so far away and it was getting late, and I knew I had to get closer.”
But Ragon’s main problem, the lack of cover, was still at hand. His best shot was the next power pole, which was a good 300 feet away.
“I had to try, so I slowly made it to the pole, and it was odd,” he said. “The farmers had been telling me that the hogs had been working those poles, rubbing on the creosote, and let me tell you something, they had stomped around there so much it was hard, and it was dry. I got to my knees and got my binoculars.
“I could see another buck, but this one had white antlers. It wasn’t the same buck. There was a big gap at the end of the field, and that big buck walked through it and came right into the field.
“I could see it was the big one, and I told myself that if I got a shot I would take it.”
But that was still a pipe dream, and a far-fetched one at that.
Consider this: A doe and two yearlings had joined the two bucks, they were still about 300 yards away, Ragon was on the ground next to a single pole in a wide open field, and …
“When I looked at them in the binoculars I could see houses in the background,” he said. “Those deer weren’t 200 yards from those houses, and a dog started barking. I’m thinking this is never gonna work. The doe with the yearlings looked up and never looked down. I thought it was over.
“But they started walking right down the middle of the field. I mean, of all the ways they could go, they were coming right at me.”
The deer were in a line. The doe and the two yearlings were out front, and the other buck followed — with the big buck bringing up the rear.
“I had one good thing working for me, and that was it had gotten so close to dark that the wind had completely laid down. You know how that happens, well it did,” Ragon said. “They are coming right to me, but I knew this was going to be tough. I was on my knees, holding my bow right behind the power pole with my release on the loop. I was ready. But they had so far to come.”
The deer kept walking, and it got exciting fast.
“Then the doe got to me, and walked past with the two yearlings,” Ragon said. “I was freaking out because I knew if she saw me it was over. I was looking out from behind the pole with only one eye. She kept walking, and the other deer kept coming, but he was well behind them.
“I was saying, ‘Dude, you gotta come on. Come on. Come on ….’”
As tense as the moment was, it quickly got worse.
“They passed me, east to west, and he was still coming,” Ragon said. “Then, all of a sudden two does came up from behind me, from the north side. They came out of nowhere. I know I didn’t move, but they must have smelled me. They took off running with flags (tails) flying. They never blew or anything, but all the deer stopped.
“I cut my eyes to the buck, and his tail was up and his head was up and looking at the two does running off. He was about 30 or 35 yards away, and I knew if I didn’t pull this off I’d never get another chance.”
It was now or never. Ragon was already at full 31-inch draw with his ’04 BowTech bow (set at 68 pounds), with the Easton Axis arrow and Rage 100-grain broadhead ready to fly.
“I put my top pin on the top of his back, just behind the shoulder, lowered it a couple of inches and hit the release,” Ragon said.
He was rewarded with the “THWACK” of the arrow hitting its target.
“What you have to understand is that, while I knew I had hit it, I still didn’t know how big a buck it was,” Ragon said. “I felt for sure it would be my biggest (his previous best was a 15-inch 8-point), but that was about it.”
The deer didn’t hang around to provide the hunter with a better look.
“He turned and went back the way he came, and I tried to watch him against that dark background and I remember that I could see all these white flags running off down that way,” Ragon said. “All the deer had turned and gone that way.
“I then saw something fall, and it looked like I was looking at the white belly of a deer on the ground. I grabbed my binoculars and looked, and I was sure it was. He was down and didn’t move, so I got up and got going.”
Ragon grabbed his bow and started walking, keeping his eye on the big white spot about 90 yards away. He reached for his flashlight, but ….
“It wasn’t there, in my pocket, so I had to walk back,” he said. “I found it where I had been kneeling, so I grabbed it and started back. I didn’t want to turn it on because I was scared (the buck) might get up, you know. So I kept going and about 30 yards away, I turned the light on real quick and I could clearly see its belly and one beam sticking up. I felt much better, but I turned the light off and didn’t turn it on until I was standing over it.
“I reached down and poked him in the back, and he didn’t move. His head was turned away, and I could only see the left side, which was the smaller side.”
He reached down to lift the head and finally realized the enormity of the kill.
“When I grabbed it and lifted it up and saw the other side, I was shocked,” Ragon said. “I fell immediately to my knees, and all those emotions hit me.
“I promise you, I think I flashed back to every hunt I’d been on, every experience. I cried and I laughed, and then I gave thanks to the Lord. Then I went to the four-wheeler. But I made it only 20 yards and turned around and to go look at him again. I did it three or four times, and then went home to get my boy Zane. He had to be with me for this.”
But he didn’t let his son in on the secret just yet.
“I got home, and I told him he wasn’t going to believe what was laying over there in that field,” the elder Ragon said. “He thought it was the big ol’ hog.”
The two guys headed back, but when Dad was getting close to the buck, he told his son to close his eyes and keep them closed.
“I got the lights of the four-wheeler on the buck, got off and lifted his rack into the lights and told my son he could open his eyes,” Ragon said. “He exploded off that four-wheeler and was standing there next to me in a second.
“I think he was happier than I was.”
They loaded the deer up and went home, where Tiffany Ragon had the camera ready.
Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young scorer Corey Neill of McCarley did a quick green score that produced the 200-plus green score.
“Scores like that usually change during the official scoring after 60 days, but I think that this buck is one of those that could actually score an inch or two higher,” Neill said. “I did the green score with a bunch of other people around and was working quickly.
“This is a nice, tight 7×7 main frame with enough (atypical) stickers (25 inches) to be scored non-typical. It does not have impressive mass or a big inside spread, but it just had so many points. It is a beautiful buck.”
The deer will finally put Calhoun County into the archery record books, he said.
“The amazing thing about it was that I scored another 180-inch-class buck this week from Calhoun County, and if you look in Magnolia Records and Pope & Young, you will notice there are no archery deer listings from Calhoun County,” Neill said. “Now this year, there are already two.”
Sure enough, Mississippi’s Magnolia Records Program had no archery listings. The best firearm buck from the county is a 158-inch 10-point killed by Daniel Williams in 2006, while the best muzzleloader buck is a 132 4/8-inch 10-point taken by Wade Hamilton in 2004.
“Funny thing, I work with both of those guys,” Ragon said. “We all work for the Natchez Trace Electric Power, and when we have a meeting this week, I get to walk up in there and show those guys my trophy.”
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